ICYMI: People on probation cook up new career skills in culinary arts program
Siskiyou County Probation partners with education to help provide job skills for justice-involved individuals


For the full article go to the Siskiyou Daily News

People on probation are getting a crash course in the culinary arts, helping them prepare for new careers in food services.

The program — a collaboration between Siskiyou County Probation and Dunsmuir Adult Education programs — teaches students about types of foods and their health benefits. 

It is taking place through the Siskiyou County Day Reporting Center in Yreka. Once the class concludes, students receive their safe-serve food handlers’ certificate. Those who complete the program become eligible for food service jobs through the probation department...

“My hope is to help (students) with taking care of themselves by learning proper techniques needed to purchase, prepare and enjoy serving — nutritious meals made from scratch,” Dunsmuir High School culinary arts teacher Jeff Capps said. 

Traditionally, evidence-based curriculum has been a method used by the probation department to help reduce recidivism, said Chief Probation Officer Michael Coley…

While evidence-based practices are scientifically proven to work there might be something else that will compliment services currently being utilized, he said, with the hope the cooking classes will provide a positive skill set for those they work with.

Combining resources with Dunsmuir Adult Education isn’t just a pragmatic approach to reducing chances those on probation with commit more crimes, Coley said. It’s also a chance for participants to experience something new, ”something we hope they find joy in doing and, hopefully, offer them an opportunity they did not think was possible.”

At the forefront of helping set the program is Day Reporting Center’s behavioral health specialist Melinda “Mimi” Klepach.

Klepach said she believes allowing someone to develop a passion or hobby for something will give them hope for the future. Someone finding pleasure in cooking may be able to use it as a coping mechanism when dealing with past trauma, she said.